In the past year, nutrition “experts” have compared trans fats to arsenic, cupcakes to contraband, and—most recently—salt to the plague. In today’s USA TODAY, notorious food cop Michael Jacobson continues pushing this smear campaign on salt, which includes a call for federal limits on the quantity used in processed foods. Despite this hype about our diet, it’s clear that Americans are actually suffering from a surplus of hyperbole.
For many of the activists and health officials spreading food fears, facts seem largely irrelevant. There’s no scientific consensus (let alone concrete evidence) of an iron-clad relationship between salt intake and hypertension. In fact, the blood pressures of only a small minority of people—tagged as “salt-sensitive”—respond to changes in dietary sodium. For the rest of us, some studies have even shown deadly consequences of salt restriction.
Additionally, salt is unique among products previously regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Unlike, lead or saccharin, our bodies need salt to function. Advocacy groups pushing for federal controls claim that the amount of salt consumed, rather than salt itself, is harmful. But even at high intake levels, there’s no real evidence that sodium causes disease.
When we’re constantly exposed to misinformation and exaggerated threats, we stand to lose perspective on bigger health issues. Activists have built up hype in order to employ a ban-first-ask-questions-later approach in their campaigns against salt, caffeine, corn syrup, trans fat, and many other food staples. They are taking away our perspective along with our freedoms.